When my son was growing up I never dreamed he’d become an alcoholic. I hoped he’d get a good education, have lots of friends, go to college and grow into a happy and healthy adult—pursuing his dreams in some field of creativity.
He was a gifted artist. When he was in 7th grade, he and his friend spent hours drawing. As he got older, before alcohol took the steering wheel, he decided to be an actor. He studied acting for two years, acted in student films, and worked with a woman writing a TV series. He landed the lead role in “Over the River and Through the Woods”. Also, he acted in “A Street Car Named Desire,” and had a leading role in a Christmas play. He had a passion and a purpose.
When he was little…
When he was little, he liked to play with friends, go to the playground, watch Sesame Street, and loved the Power Rangers. One Christmas I went to Toys r Us and found the only Power Ranger left in the store, but this woman grabbed it out of my hand and fled. She was evil. I made up a story on Christmas that Santa couldn’t deliver them until after Christmas, or something like that. But, he took it in stride and believed the “excuse.”
I loved all the milestone moments we shared. When he was ten months old, I came into his room one day, and he was smiling and bouncing in his blue snoopy pajamas because it was the first time he’d pulled himself up into a standing position. I never dreamed he’d grow up to be a raging alcoholic.
When he was little—two and three, we’d travel to Mexico and he’d get so sick; bad diarrhea and one time he got Bell’s Palsy. I’d call my physician dad in a panic, crying, asking him what I should do. The doctors we went to were terrible. I worried a lot about him.
Caught in a seemingly infinite loop
I never dreamed my son would grow up to be a full-blown alcoholic. So caught up in the infinite loop of his disease, that he drinks so much he ends up in the hospital. And after that, he’s off for psychiatric treatment. He’s released and it starts all over again.
He’s had periods of sobriety
He’s had periods of sobriety in his life, and not surprisingly, he’s done well. He holds a job, gets a decent place to live and a few years ago he got a car. I think all those things are in the balance now. The way I keep track of him is through Facebook. He posts several times a day when he’s sober, and when he starts drinking, the posts stop.
I’m sure he’s in pain; lonely, angry, scared. He’s stuck in that loop and he can’t seem to jump out and make that life changing decision.
Stressed, worried, relieved
A few months ago, I was feeling stressed and worried about him as I drove out to watch my grand-nephews play flag football. A bus drove by and on the side, it said: “Give God the Reigns.” I laughed because that’s what the literature on dealing with alcoholics says. Then, at the game, I got a text from a friend who has a son who is also an alcoholic. She sent me some pictures of her mom and so I launched into my latest tale of woe. She said she keeps her distance from her son and she feels much calmer.
Having an alcoholic child can seem so isolating, so that short contact with my friend soothed my soul. I need to go back to Al-Anon so I don’t feel so alone. And so I get out of my head, wondering where he is, if he lost his job, or why he never calls?
I never dreamed my son would become an alcoholic
At times I’m angry at him. Sometimes I don’t want to see him because I think he’s going to drain all my energy, but that makes me feel selfish and bad. I wish I could help him. Al-Anon teaches that we’re powerless over the alcoholics drinking. But I blame myself for his condition. Al-Anon also says: “I didn’t cause it, I can’t cure it and I can’t control it.” But I’m caught up in the control part. I’m sure there must be something I can do. I find solace in praying. I’ve prayed many novenas for him to stop drinking and I still do it. Sometimes I say the rosary, or ask God to help him find more of a reason to stay sober than to drink.
There’s a sad place in my heart, where I take all the blame for his drinking. I feel I must have failed him miserably growing up. And I did make mistakes, but common sense and the literature on alcoholism reminds me he is an adult and has to deal with the consequences of his actions. In my heart I fear he’ll be homeless or that alcohol will kill him. I rode by a cemetery today and it broke my heart to think of him being buried and not living on this earth anymore.
Pleading with him to stop, paying his rent, his car payment or letting him live with me I will not do. But it’s hard not to want to help. I grieve the loss of a relationship with him and all the years alcohol has been front and center in his life.
I hope one day he finds more reasons to not drink. Where alcohol is no longer manning the ship. Where he can hang out with the family and lead a productive life, of his choosing.
That’s all for today. For more information on alcoholism, visit Al-Anon
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